Restaurants throughout the Northeast will be celebrating Lunar New Year with traditions, family and delicious cuisine. Superstitions, symbolism and festivities are at the forefront of one of the most popular Asian holidays around the world, and it all starts with food.
The lunar calendar is represented by 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac; 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, which symbolizes longevity, positivity and cautiousness.
This year, the holiday starts on Jan. 22 and runs for two weeks.
The Langham, Boston
You might not expect that an Italian restaurant would celebrate Lunar New Year, but during weekend brunch on Jan. 21 to 22, Grana will be offering delectable sticky rice cakes and house-made bao with assorted Italian meats. Set inside the former great hall of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston – within The Langham, Boston, a AAA Four Diamond Designated hotel – Grana features soaring ceilings, ornate fixtures and lush baby blue velvet furniture.
Myers + Chang, in Boston’s South End, has one of the most popular dim sum brunches. The eatery has a hip diner feel to it with a menu made up of Asian-infused comfort foods. With items like tea-smoked spareribs and crispy marinated tofu bao, this is a perfect Lunar New Year restaurant. They’ll be offering takeout and delivery, in addition to indoor dining.
In business for over 40 years, Lilac Blossom is an old-school Chinese restaurant with two locations in Nashua. Run by husband-and-wife team Harry and Sophia Ku, Lilac Blossom’s popular dishes include General Tso’s chicken and Hunan spicy beef. Preordering your celebratory meal is encouraged.
Montclair and Denville
Enjoy your Lunar New Year feast at this local favorite. Family-owned since 1986, the menus at both Hunan Taste locations are similar, but the decor at the Montclair location is more modern compared to Denville’s traditional red and gold dragons and lanterns.
Mandarin Oriental New York
The MO Lounge at AAA Five Diamond Designated Mandarin Oriental is ringing in the Year of the Rabbit with a celebratory bento box for two. From Jan. 22 to Feb. 19, you can enjoy steamed bao, savory dumplings and other traditional favorites, all with a stunning view overlooking Central Park. Enjoy the festivities further in the hotel lobby on Jan. 23 when there will be a dragon parade at the very lucky time of 3:33 p.m.
The MaLa Project, a Chinese restaurant and hotspot in midtown Manhattan, has partnered with the James Beard Foundation to host a Lunar New Year celebration dinner on Jan. 25. The ticket ($105 for the public and $95 for JBF members) includes a three-course, family-style dinner featuring crispy duck salad, a dry pot of beef, five-spice tofu and Asian veggies, and gold and silver manto (steamed and fried sweet buns).
Usually offering Mediterranean cuisine and fresh baked bread, Leland will be overhauling its entire menu during the week of Jan. 25 to 29 for Lunar New Year. Owner Randi Lee and Chef Delfin Jaranilla have curated a menu that features Asian dishes inspired by their childhood, like long noodles, chicken jook porridge and char siu pork shoulder. The in-house bakery Leland Baking House will be churning out favorites like almond cookies, steamed bao and sesame balls. At the end of the meal, guests can expect to receive lai see (red envelopes), a gift that symbolizes good luck and health and keeps the bad spirits away.
This Hamptons-based boutique hotel is inviting guests to the property’s Beach House on Jan. 28 to experience traditions and recipes from owner Sylvia Wong and her family. The special event will give guests the opportunity to make dumplings and sample various traditional foods and tea. The family-friendly event will be a wonderful way to ring in the Lunar New Year and enjoy a customary feast.
If you’d like to celebrate the New Year with lucky noodles, then Y Noodle and Bar is the right spot. It is said that noodles symbolize long life – the longer your noodle, the better. Order the classic ramen noodles and juicy soup dumplings with decadent add-ons like wagyu beef or truffles. One of the restaurant’s most buzzed-about dishes is its pork belly with cotton candy; braised for 12 hours, the dish is served with hot braising liquid on the side, so you can pour it over the cotton candy and watch it melt.
In the mood for something spicy? Cheng Du Taste specializes in Sichuan cuisine, which is known for its heat. The menu has a spice level scale of one to three next to each spicy dish. If you want to go bold, get the whole spicy fish, a three on the spice scale and a symbol of prosperity for the new year. For a milder option, try the shredded pork with garlic sauce.
Share your Lunar New Year traditions in the comments below.